If you have an elderly relative, you should consider setting up what legal protections you can for them to prevent local authorities from attempting to grab their assets. Ensure that they have wills that are up to date, protective trusts established and – of utmost importance – lasting powers of attorney.
It is not only the assets and money that is at stake, but preventing unnecessary emotional distress also.
If there are assets and cash to grab then the council may seek the assistance of The Court of Protection, which has unlimited powers. The Court of Protection was established under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to give social workers and lawyers the power to take over the lives of people, most of them elderly, who are ruled not to be capable of looking after their own affairs.
So whilst your elderly relatives have “capacity”, ensure that you offer to assist them to review their wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney.
There have been some alarming stories in the press regarding the Court of Protection acting in conjunction with local councils. In one case an elderly lady was receiving excellent care from her line in carers and decided to leave her property to them. The local authority moved to have her ruled as lacking “mental capacity” by the Court of Protection, despite a finding to the contrary by an eminent independent psychologist whom she had paid to examine her.
This case was later put in the hands of the Official Solicitor, a state official. This stopped the local council selling her house to pay for her care. The solicitors hired by the local authority used up whatever money the lady in question had. So the cost of any care meant that taxpayers had to foot the bill. The local council caused this sorry mess by allowing its social workers to intervene so officiously in this old lady’s life.
Sadly, this occurred before the introduction of the latest modifications to the Care Act 2015. This has introduced “well being” principles. The Care Act imposes a general responsibility on local authorities to promote an individual’s “well being”. This means that they should always have a person’s well being in mind when making decisions about them or planning services.
For my part I would rather not leave anything to chance, but protect my relatives by secure wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney – how about you?